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September 21, 2014
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September 21, 2014
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Fabian Fischer's Blog


"The ludological position is that games should be understood on their own terms. Ludologists have proposed that the study of games should concern the analysis of the abstract and formal systems they describe. In other words, the focus of game studies should be on the rules of a game, not on the representational elements which are only incidental."

(Wikipedia: Game Studies)

I view games as a medium in the context of society, art, technology and science. My goal is to convey a critical perspective, to provoke thought on a deeper level than just that of a "fun pastime", and thus to contribute to progressing the medium.


Games are a societal phenomenon. With the digitization of the medium, it became ever more accessible. More and more people are playing and the underlyign industry is growing larger and larger. It's the age of "homo ludens".

"First, computer and video games are going to become the predominate form of popular culture interaction in our society. We can watch them get progressively dumbed down or we can see them spread to new people and new niches while retaining their power and complexity. Their spread will make more money for more people, but retaining their power in the act will, I am convinced, make a better and smarter society."

(James Paul Gee)

Games are to be understood as a unique form of art, defined by systemic interaction and fundamentally distinct from other media. The game design, the craft of creating a ruleset, is thus of central importance.

"Game design isn’t in code, art, or sound. It’s not in sculpting game pieces or painting game boards. Game design means crafting the rules that make those pieces come alive."

(Tynan Sylvester)

Games benefit from modern technology. The digitization and automated enforcement of a ruleset can lead to dramatic efficiency advantages. On the other hand, the danger of misinterpreting the medium is ever-present.

"Human beings have a bit of a bad pattern with technology: when we first unlock a new technology, we never ask whether we should use it. Instead, we tend to use it indiscriminately at first. It’s only afterward, when the technology has become established, that we become more selective in its use."

(Keith Burgun)

Games can be better understood by employing scientific research. Especially system theory and psychology provide valuable insights for a deeper understanding of the inner workings of the medium and its effect on human beings.

"The bigger hope is to move our alchemical craft towards the founding of a science of game design. We currently build games through habit, guesswork and slavish devotion to pre-existing form. Building a testable model of game mechanics opens up new opportunities for game balancing, original game design and the broader application of game design to other fields."

(Daniel Cook)


I'm currently studying informatics and writing my master thesis on game design and digital game-based learning. I like to think of myself as an artist, critic and information scientist. Until 2009 I also was an active composer and lyricist for several musical projects. Since 2010 I focussed mostly on writing and self-study. My German blog ("Nachtfischers Ludokultur") initially served as a general platform for critical ideas on games, music and other topics. During the last years a strong focus on games, design and ludology emerged. Besides, I regularly publish articles on GamersGlobal.

"It is not the job of artists to give the audience what the audience want.

If the audience knew what they needed, then they would not be the audience; they would be the artists.

It is the job of artists to give the audience what they need."

(Alan Moore)


Fabian Fischer's Comments

Comment In: [Blog - 09/17/2014 - 12:14]

Neat overview of the basic ...

Neat overview of the basic tools of analysis I think it could serve quite nicely as an introduction for people who aren 't used to analyzing games in such a formal way. To kind of make them realize: Oh, so these are all actually designed systems and they have to ...

Comment In: [Blog - 09/11/2014 - 07:48]

I mean, or you could ...

I mean, or you could just play well-designed games that actually have interesting gameplay in them, so that your designer brain can appreciate them more deeply than any regular gamer 's could.

Comment In: [Blog - 08/30/2014 - 04:23]

TWD is still too much ...

TWD is still too much trying to be interactive, it wants to be a game so badly that it hurts the consistency of the storytelling severely. It 's a good case study to highlight the fundamental conflict of game and story. HR mostly does away with it by not being ...

Comment In: [Blog - 08/30/2014 - 02:41]

Spot on Good game design ...

Spot on Good game design is all about elegance.

Comment In: [Blog - 08/23/2014 - 11:40]

Awesome list that heavily intersects ...

Awesome list that heavily intersects with what I would perceive to be good game design ideals I 'll definitely keep an eye on your work in the future.

Comment In: [Blog - 08/23/2014 - 04:12]

Nice one. This internal balance ...

Nice one. This internal balance is indeed an extremely important factor in any game that has any sort of challenge.